BUCKFIELD — It was already tourney time as far as the Buckfield girls’ basketball team was concerned.

Unfortunately for the Bucks, the season ended early, and in similar fashion to last year.

Vinalhaven dashed the Bucks’ tourney dreams, sweeping Buckfield in a night/day doubleheader to eliminate them from playoff contention.

The Vikings won a nailbiter Friday and then finished off the sweep Saturday with a 67-36 win. Vinalhaven also ended the Bucks’ tourney season last year with a Western Class D preliminary round win.

“Obviously, last night was a tough one, losing by a point (47-46),” Buckfield coach Ryan Wilkins said. “I wasn’t really sure how they were going to respond. I was really proud of their responding to the challenge. We’re not the most skilled bunch of players, but we grind it out and we will play hard. I thought we did a good job of that.”

The Bucks (6-12) were on the cusp of the Class C South tourney cutoff. A win over the Vikings, 14-2 and ranked third in Class D South, would have given Buckfield the bump it needed. After a heartbreaking loss in the final seconds Friday, the Bucks had to regroup while also compensating for an ailing Alexis Bennett, who arrived at the game Saturday morning battling an illness. She had nine points Friday night but managed just two Saturday.

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“It started right off when Alexis came in and said she was sick,” Wilkins said. “She’s an East-West Conference All-Star. So I knew that was going to hurt us. It made us use some combinations of kids that perhaps don’t play as much together as I would have liked.”

Though the Bucks got behind early, the team battled hard and rallied in the second to tie it, but the Vikings were just too much. 

“They’ve overcome a lot,” Wilkins said. “They’ve overcome a lot of situations that haven’t always gone their way. The move to Class C was something we weren’t expecting. It’s been a battle all the way. So I was really proud of their effort.”

Kali Litchfield was a spark for the Bucks with 12 points, while Alyssa Therriault added nine. The Vikings got 28 from Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes and 10 each from Deja Doughty and Skylar Sanborn. It was the seventh straight win for Vinalhaven.

“We were kind of freaked out because we weren’t expecting that,” sophomore captain Paige Dennison said about Friday’s thriller. “We didn’t know how good they were. We knew we could do better (Saturday) and came out fired up.”

The Vikings got the quick jump on the Bucks and built a 10-5 lead in the first quarter. Though the Bucks missed their first eight shots, Buckfield was still within reach.

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A Litchfield 3 and a basket by Ashley Campbell were the only points for the Bucks but it was enough to keep them close. Doughty, whose free throws won Friday’s game in the final seconds,  had five points in the quarter.

“When you play a morning game, you never know how things are going to go,” Vinalhaven coach Sandy Nelson said. “You’re sleeping on air mattresses and whatever. There’s no place like home. I think we made every textbook mistake in the first half.”

The Bucks started to get some offense in the second quarter and trimmed the lead. A 7-0 run had the game tied 17-17 with 1:48 left in the half. Therriault hit a 3. Bennett scored off an inbounds pass, and Litchfield hit a 3 to erase an eight-point lead. Vinalhaven responded with a 3 from Hannah Noyes and a post basket by Dennison to make it 22-17. A Seneca Jacobs jumper finished the half with the Bucks down 22-19.

“I was amazed at halftime that we were down by what we were,” Wilkins said. “Sitting on the bench, it seemed like we weren’t playing very well at all. We just kept grinding and grinding. That’s how (Friday’s) game was.”

 The Bucks had been able to keep Davis-Oakes in check for the first half. She finished with 31 Friday night. She had just two points and missed a number of shots inside in the first half Saturday. Foul trouble started to catch up to the Bucks. That that enabled the Vikings to find Davis-Oakes in the paint in the second half.

“We needed to pick up on our defense and cut off the sidelines,” Dennison said. “We needed to have better passes. We were throwing it way, just like (Friday night). We picked up on that, and it just flowed. We started getting better passes inside and we fed our post a lot better.”

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Davis-Oakes had 12 points in the third, eight coming from the foul line. She finished with 14 points in the fourth as the Vikings broke the game open. 

“In the second half, she just started taking over,” Wilkins said. “She’s a very good player. She’s one of the better post players that we see.”

The Vikings finished the third quarter with a 10-3 run. Davis-Oakes had eight of those points while Ashlyn Littlefield added a pair of free throws. The lead was up to 43-30 entering the fourth.

“We kind of opened things up a little bit and started looking for her,” Nelson said. “We got a little rhythm going.”

The Vikings then opened the final quarter with 11 straight. Davis-Oakes had 10 of those. It was part of a 14-2 run that finished things off.

“We slowed down and took our time and set up our offense,” Dennison said.

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